5 Things You Should Be Doing To Get Your Book Published
So you've written a book and it's saved on your computer. Or maybe you've printed it out and it's currently collecting dust on a shelf. You'd love to get your book published, but you're not sure of the next steps. Self-publishing may seem like the "easy" route, but it's definitely not the only route. If you have a story you've written, and you believe it deserves to be told to the masses, read on. Here are five things you should be doing now to get your book off of your shelf and onto the shelves of your favorite book store, STAT.
1. Finish Your Work
The first step, and often the toughest, is finishing your work. You may have a finished draft you've been toiling over with red ink, or maybe you've been "Find + Replacing" your 300-page manuscript for capitalization errors. The first step to getting published is to finish your work, as in, considering it submission ready. If you're over-editing, the only person who will ever have your book in their hands is you.
You're better off focusing on the first 30 pages of your manuscript to ensure you've got a hook that will draw the reader in. When an agent requests opening chapters, these are the pages he or she will be reading. Arguably, these are the most important pages of your manuscript, and likely what you wrote first - months or even years ago. So take some time to edit these pages carefully, and leave the rest to your future publisher's editing team.
2. Search For An Agent, The Easy Way
After you've finished your work, you're almost ready to find an agent. The search can be tough and laborious, and knowing what you're looking for is key. Make sure you've identified your genre and search for an agent who specializes in that area. He or she will have greater interest in your work and better connections to publishing houses who specialize in your genre.
There are thousands of legitimate agents to choose from, and numerous Literary Agent Guides to read in order to find the right fit, so knowing your genre is the first step to narrow your search. You can also search online using strong keywords. "Agents in New York" is going to yield a lot of irrelevant results, while searching for "currently accepting submissions and works of fiction" can narrow your search and make the vetting process easier.
Speaking of the vetting process, once you've identified a handful of agents who are accepting submissions in your genre, do your due diligence. Find out more about the agent through their Literary Agency's website, check out some of the authors they've worked with, and rank your list of agents in order of priority. Query the best fit first.
Not sure what I mean by query? For more secrets to finding the perfect agent for you, enroll in my course, The Published Author.
3. Perfect Your Submission Package
Once you find the right agent, treat your submission like a job application. Tailor your submission package based on the agent's requests, making sure to follow directions. There's nothing worse than a generic query letter that has little in common with the agent's request for submissions.
Share enough, but don't overshare. You'll want to pique the agent's interest in your initial letter, in your opening pages, and in your synopsis of your story. If you have personal or professional experience, or if the story is particularly relevant or timely, make this clear. Finally, don't forgot to include multiple ways the agent can contact you if he or she is interested in your work.
4. Network - You Never Know Who You'll Meet
In the literary world, like so many worlds, your network can be a key to your success. Regardless of where you live, opportunities for networking are boundless.
Begin in your town, searching for writing courses, local publications, and author "Meetups" in your area. This is a great way to connect with fellow writers who may have in-roads into the publishing world they're willing to share. Build relationships, share advice, and open yourself up to opportunities. Writing in a local publication is a great way to get your first byline, and a worthy inclusion in your submission package especially if it relates to your story.
Next, get online and on social media to find other authors and writers out there in the world. Facebook Groups are a great way to interact with other writers and learn about their processes. Twitter is a perfect place to do some social listening - literary agents tend to hang out here and share their successes along with their gripes. Starting a blog, or building a website for your work is another great way to build awareness and anticipation of your work.
And finally, one of the best places to network is at conferences. I've dedicated an entire lecture to networking at conferences, including crafting the perfect elevator pitch. If you're interested in learning more, enroll in my course, The Published Author.
5. Bounce Back After Being Rejected
Finally, it is extremely important to keep your chin up! The publishing process can be grueling. It can be confusing, frustrating, and time consuming. You can (and probably will) get rejected. But when you do, you'll be joining the ranks of numerous bestselling authors who were rejected before they were first published. You'll join the ranks of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Dr. Seuss.
Don't ever be afraid of putting your book out there, again and again, until you get a "yes." Along the way, some agents will offer a bit of silver lining - suggested edits or reasons why they've decided to pass on the work. Other agents will provide harsher criticism, and still others won't get back to you at all. Stay the course, continue the search for the perfect agent, and continue to believe in your work. You'll beat the odds if you're able to overcome rejection and continue to work towards getting your book published.
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